Mark Hughes Foundation’s huge boost from 2018 NRL Beanie for Brain Cancer round in Australia & NZ

GRATEFUL: Mark Hughes has built his foundation over the past four years since being diagnosed with brain cancer. Picture: Wolter Peeters
GRATEFUL: Mark Hughes has built his foundation over the past four years since being diagnosed with brain cancer. Picture: Wolter Peeters

Mark Hughes says his foundation is ready to take its work to the next level after raising $1 million more from this year’s Beanie for Brain Cancer round than in 2017.

The weekend’s Beanie for Brain Cancer round in the National Rugby League raised over $2.6 million, a significant increase on the $1.75m raised in the inaugural round last year. 

Hughes said well over 100,000 beanies were sold during this year’s campaign in an “unbelievable” response. 

“We just set an aim that we wanted to raise the bar and go a bit higher,” Hughes told the Newcastle Herald.

“The NRL community got right behind us and we’ve wiped it out. It’s been unbelievable.

“It certainly took us by surprise last year, so we had an idea from last year what type of support was out there. But when people all band together as one and put their mind to getting behind something, it’s pretty powerful.” 

The Mark Hughes Foundation (MHF) expects the 2018 fundraising total to push close to $3 million with many activities and spin offs of the initiative in coming months. 

Organisations can register to have their own beanie day between June 4-8 for MHF Beanie Week, or choose another time of convenience.

“Our original concept from three or four years ago was to register your school, business or sporting group” Hughes said. 

“Wear your favourite beanie and bring a gold coin donation. 

“It’s pretty simple and fun to do. You can get on the Mark Hughes Foundation website and register.”

The MHF was formed by Mark and his wife, Kirralee, following Mark’s diagnosis with brain cancer in 2014.

In the years since, the foundation has raised funds for cancer research, created awareness of the disease, and supported brain cancer patients and their families. 

Brain cancer kills more children than any other disease and kills more people under 40 in Australia than any other cancer. 

“We’ve already pledged $2.5 million to the Australian Brain Cancer Mission over the next five years,” Hughes said. 

BEANIE ON: Mark Hughes. Picture: Wolter Peeters

BEANIE ON: Mark Hughes. Picture: Wolter Peeters

“The government matches dollar-for-dollar for that, which is a huge kick-along for brain cancer.

“We’ve got a scientific committee who steer all the decision making with our funds and they’ll be working overtime to ensure we can put this money into the best areas of research.

“We’re really ready to launch and go to that next level.” 

The foundation has set-up brain cancer “hubs of excellence” in Sydney and Newcastle to provide researchers with the best tools and research resources.

The Knights match on Sunday was the focal point of the round after McDonald Jones Homes relinquished their naming rights of the Broadmeadow venue so it could be known as Beanie for Brain Cancer Stadium. 

Hughes said he is looking forward to the foundation’s sold-out ball in August, followed by a 30-strong group trip to Borneo in October with former Knights Paul Harragon and Bill Peden. 

The complete Mark Hughes Foundation story